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Kirk Cameron and Sean Spicer’s dubious quest to ‘win back Story Hour’

The actor and former Trump staffer came to Washington to spread their values — and promote their books. Few seemed to care.

Actor and author Kirk Cameron hands a copy of his new children’s book, “As You Grow,” to a young reader at the Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library in D.C. on Wednesday. (Ron Charles/The Washington Post)
4 min

Behold. Kirk Cameron and Brave Books, a conservative publisher of children’s stories, have teamed up “to win back Story Hour and stand up for truth and Biblical values.”

The evangelical actor, best known for his appearance on “Growing Pains” in a previous century, has been traveling around the country promoting his new Brave picture book, “As You Grow.”

Cameron markets his Freedom Island Tour as a wholesome alternative to the Drag Queen Story Hours promoted by woke Marxist librarians. Christian patriots, supposedly imperiled and opposed by a godless state, are encouraged to attend not merely to hear children’s books but to demonstrate their allegiance.

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The Brave Books website says, “It take courage to stand up for truth.” It take grammar, too, but God works in mysterious ways.

Wednesday morning, the Freedom Island Tour came to the Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library in D.C. to vanquish the arrayed forces of evil. But the forces of evil never arrayed. Instead of angry protesters, Cameron and his fellow Brave authors confronted a mostly empty sidewalk. Misinformation purveyor Jack Posobiec, author of “The Island of Free Ice Cream,” spoke ominously of the recent “Christian massacre” at a Nashville elementary school. “If we back down,” he warned, “they win.”

At least seven uniformed police officers and several members of a private security team wandered back and forth. Apparently, this is what winning looks like.

Inside the library’s large meeting room, there were more adults than children. The publisher’s staff scurried around trying to divine where everybody might be. It was perplexing: Five hundred people had reportedly attended an earlier stop in Fayetteville, Ark. “Is it spring break?” someone asked.

By 10:30 — starting time — nine children had arrived. One little girl was singing “Jingle Bells.” At least the War on Christmas wasn’t winning.

Brave Books is a brand fueled by a classic right-wing cocktail of aggrievement and triumphalism. Its picture books, populated by talking, well-dressed animals, are a mix of morality tales, Ayn Rand fever dreams and Trump talking points. Cameron’s “As You Grow,” a story about caring for others, is the blandest of the bunch. Posobiec’s book warns children against the specious promises of lupine communists. Chaya Raichik, the Libs of TikTok star, was on hand to read “No More Secrets: The Candy Cavern,” her woolly parable about groomers in school.

Twenty-five minutes later, Brave founder Trent Talbot announced they would delay another five or six minutes “because there’s a lot of people trying to find a place to park.” Sure. One woman had a cap that said “PRAY.” It seemed like the only remaining option.

As we waited, Brave Books’ creative director led the children in a game of Simon Says. A little girl suggested they should twirl, but he told her that boys don’t twirl; they spin. They do, indeed.

When story time finally started, there were about 17 kids in the room, surrounded by a larger number of adults. Cameron speculated that many people didn’t show up because they were afraid. “But you’re brave,” he told the group, though it wasn’t clear what they’d endured except delay.

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Holding a replica of the National Monument to the Forefathers at Plymouth, Mass., Cameron delivered a brief homily about America as a once and future theocracy.

Sean Spicer, one of President Donald Trump’s press secretaries, came on last to talk about his new picture book, “The Parrots Go Bananas.” It’s a story about the dangers of fake news. Clearly, Brave Books is seeking out experts.

As I stood there watching Spicer trying his darnedest to generate some enthusiasm, I imagined he was looking out at that handful of children and thinking, “This is the largest audience to ever witness a story hour — period — both in person and around the globe.”

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